Delmarva Reptile Fest a Spectacular Success

Posting by CobraCaroline

I awoke early on Saturday morning to start loading live reptiles for the 3 hour drive to Pocomoke City MD.  Snakes, lizards, a tortoise and an alligator all got comfy in their car seats and relaxed while I drove the reptile van across the Bay and through the heart of the Eastern Shore.

Arriving in Pocomoke City, I noted the sign welcoming Reptiles Alive into town.  How awesome!  I LOVE this little “city!”

I parked at the back of the Delmarva Discovery Center (DDC) and went in to find my friend Jennifer Rafter, the DDC’s Curator.  We had an early quick lunch of soft-shell crab sandwiches that I had picked up at a local seafood market and then got to work setting up for the shows.

There were already lots of visitors at the DDC, and they were having a great time enjoying the exhibits featuring the Delmarva’s natural and cultural history and the special attractions that had come for Reptile Fest.

Local artist Jenny Somers painted and displayed her amphibian and reptile artwork that included beautiful wine glasses with red-eyed tree frogs and snakes painted on them and awesome herp paintings.

Heather Cunningham along with Maria and Will Beckey staffed a display featuring the Maryland Amphibian and Reptile Atlas.  The Atlas’s mission is to determine the distribution of amphibians and reptiles in Maryland.

Lots of volunteers and DDC staff including Brooks Olney, Katy Fleming, and Victoria Overholt were on hand to help out with the special temporary display the DDC had set up featuring live snakes and turtles found in Delmarva.  Visitors even had the opportunity to safely pet a live corn snake at this exhibit!

Shannon Chandler and managed the craft area with supplies and volunteers to help children create frogs of their own!  This was a VERY popular activity and the frogs they created were so cute.

Jennifer and DDC intern Raymond Zeintak assisted me with setting up the performance space for the live animal shows.

At 1 pm, I started the first show.  The performance was packed with eager children and adults who were excited to see what exotic creatures had come to visit.

Soy the Honduran milk snake was the first reptile of the show and he caused a stir of “oohs” and “aahs.”  At 5 feet long, his shiny orange and red scales are really eye-catching.  The audience listened intently as I explained how people and snakes are the same on the inside.  They also learned that snakes are afraid of people and that the best thing to do if you see a snake is to “Just leave snakes alone.”

Next, we met an animal from Down Under:  Teliqua the blue tongue skink lizard from Australia amazed the audience with his super cool blue tongue.  Children and parents alike jumped with surprise when they heard the end of my story about the time a blue tongue skink met a dingo dog.

Super tough girl Janis the leopard tortoise from Africa came out next.  As always, everyone LOVED her!  She is so big and pretty with her black spots.  Everyone learned what a turtle shell is made of and what happens when a tortoise meets a lion.

What is the biggest lizard in the world?  The Komodo Dragon – which is actually a type of monitor lizard.  And we met a member of the dragon family when Logan the Nile monitor lizard was introduced.  Gasps of awe could be heard as everyone saw him – he is impressive!  He is over 5 long with beautiful yellow spots and a huge long forked tongue.  And the story about the mommy crocodile, the Nile monitor lizard and the pizza is always a favorite with audiences of all ages.

The grand finale featured Moonlight the albino Burmese python.  Moonlight is still growing, but she is already a crowd-wower at 8 feet long.  Her yellow and white colors and easy going attitude seem to make her favorite , even with people who are a bit afraid of snakes.

After a wrap up with Moonlight, I concluded the first show by inviting any audience members with reptile questions to come up to the table and I would be happy to talk with them.

I repeated this process two more times that day.  All three shows were completely filled up with people.  In fact, there were over 200 people at the Delmarva Reptile Fest that day!

After the event was over and the DDC closed to the public, Jen and I discussed how successful the day was.  We decided to start planning for next year!  So get ready for the 3rd Annual Delmarva Reptile Fest at the Delmarva Discovery Center in the winter of 2012.

Sssssee you later alligators!

I would also like to give a BIG thank you to DDC Executive Director Brian Garrett, all of the members of the DDC board and the residents of Pocomoke City for being so kind and welcoming to both myself and the reptiles.  Thank you all!

A Sneak Peek at the New DDC Aquarium

The official opening for the new Delmarva Discovery Center’s (DDC) aquarium is Saturday June 26, but today, I will take you on a virtual tour that includes some special peeks behind the scenes…

We will start our tour with the quarantine facilities that are not in the public areas of the DDC.  This area houses new animals before they go on exhibit; special animals that are used in shows and programs, and the tons of “stuff” that a zoo or aquarium requires to care for its animals.

100_1865

100_1867

I learned just how territorial large mouth bass are when Jen introduced me to this guy:

And check out these totally cool ancient creatures:


Next, we went into the public areas of the DDC. This exhibit features Chesapeake bay creatures:

100_1874

100_1879

The DDC also has some really cool touch tank exhibits featuring some awesome native creatures.

Live reptiles and amphibians are also featured creatures. More live herp exhibits will be coming soon too.

100_1916-300x153

100_1910-224x300

There are also a few displays featuring taxidermy birds and mammals.

100_1919-225x300

100_1920-300x248

Finally — we came to the big new aquarium with its new and exciting residents — the STURGEON!

100_1896


Now that you have had a sneak peek at the new aquarium, start making plans to visit the Delmarva Discovery Center. The aquarium’s Grand Opening Celebration on June 26 will feature Jen scuba diving in the tank, animal feeding demonstrations, live animal programs and more! Located in historic Pocomoke City MD, about 45 minutes from Ocean City MD and Chincoteague VA — this is a totally fun destination for the whole family.

Pocomoke City Discovers Reptiles Alive!

100_1362

Last Saturday morning, March 20th, I packed up the Reptiles Alive van full of great animals including Sunshine the python, Logan the Nile monitor lizard, and B.A. the alligator.  We  drove across the Chesapeake Bay down to Pocomoke City, MD – home to the Delmarva Discovery Center.

Pocomoke is a historic Eastern Shore town located right on the Pocomoke River. Last year, the awesome new Delmarva Discovery Center (DDC) opened to the public. The DDC features exhibits that tell the story of the Delmarva’s natural and cultural history.
100_1316
As we set up and got ready, we had a huge crowd excitedly waiting to see the first show.
100_1327
We started each of the three shows that day with a couple of animals native to the Eastern Shore: Lucky our black rat snake and T Rex the snapping turtle.100_1325

Then we featured an animal from the other side of our planet: the Australian blue tongue skink, Mystique. Next, we learned why we should all be really grateful there are no mommy pizzas when we met Logan the Nile monitor lizard.
100_1332
The alligator B.A. (which stands for “Bad Attitude” helped us learn alligator love songs. Last but definitely not least, we met Sunshine, our albino Burmese python. The audience, as usual, went wild for Sunshine.

Big thanks go to the Delmarva Discovery Center for hosting this fun reptile festival. We are hoping to make this an annual event, so start planning your trip to Pocomoke City for next year.

Exciting New Job for Jennifer Rafter

Posting by Caroline Seitz

Jennifer Rafter was one of the first staff members of Reptiles Alive.  She started in 1999 and has been an important part of our team ever since.  Caring for our animals, rehabilitating injured wildlife, and presenting awesome live animal shows were all part of her contribution here.

Jennifer has moved on from Reptiles Alive to become the Aquarium Curator at the Delmarva Discovery Center. It is a brand new museum in Pocomoke MD that showcases the culture and natural history of the Delmarva Peninsula with a focus on the Pocomoke River.

I had the chance to visit Jen at her new job last week – and I am SO EXCITED for her.  The Discovery Center is fabulous.  The cultural exhibits are up and they are very good.  Children and adults will enjoy the various interactive displays and hands-on activities the center offers.  But the best is soon to come…

A 7,000 gallon aquarium was just installed and Jen is spending all her time getting it sealed, plumbed, and working.  It takes A LOT of work to get an aquarium of that size up and running.  It took almost 12 hours just to the aquarium through the Center’s doors and installed in the display area!

The Pocomoke City Fire Department was called to fill the aquarium for its first water test.  After the test, the tank was drained so that concrete features such as fallen trees and branches can be added.  After the plumbing and concrete work is done, the fire department will re-fill the aquarium.

Jen will then spend time cycling the water to prepare it for the fish.  Live bass, catfish and other fish found in the Pocomoke River will be featured in the aquarium, but the star attraction will be the sturgeon.

In addition to the large aquarium, the Discovery Center also has touch tanks that allow visitors to touch animals such as snails, horseshoe crabs and more.  Jen will also be adding live reptile and amphibian displays.

Special events such as a Haunted Halloween tour, lectures, art classes and other fun activities are offered at the Center.  Activities adjacent to the Center include a special Pocomoke River boat cruise tour, a boardwalk trail through a naturally occurring cypress swamp, and shopping at art galleries and boutiques in the beautiful town of Pocomoke.  Of course you can also visit Chincoteague, VA, Ocean City, MD and Assateague National Seashore which are all about 30 minutes away.

I am sad to see her go – but I am so excited for her too!  Jen’s new home and new job are really awesome and I know she is going to have a great time.  I urge anyone who visits the Eastern Shore to visit the Delmarva Discovery Center and say hello to Jen.

contact-img